Life and career
1988–2006: Early years
Adele Laurie Blue Adkins was born on 5 May 1988 in Tottenham, London, to an English mother, Penny Adkins, and a Welsh father, Marc Evans. Evans left when Adele was two, leaving her mother to raise her. She began singing at age four and asserts that she became obsessed with voices. Growing up, Adele spent most of her time singing rather than reading; the last book she read was Roald Dahl's Matilda when she was six years old. In 1997, at the age of nine, Adele and her mother, who by then had found work as a furniture maker and an adult-learning activities organiser, relocated to Brighton on the south coast of England.
In 1999 she and her mother moved back to London; first to Brixton, then to the neighbouring district of West Norwood in south London.
Adele graduated from the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in Croydon in May 2006, where she was a classmate of Leona Lewis and Jessie J. Adele credits the school with nurturing her talent even though, at the time, she was more interested in going into A&R and hoped to launch other people's careers.
2006–2010: Beginnings and 19
Teenaged Adele performing on an acoustic guitar in Kilburn, London
, in 2007
Four months after graduation, she published two songs on the fourth issue of the online arts publication PlatformsMagazine.com. She had recorded a three-song demo for a class project and given it to a friend. The friend posted the demo on Myspace, where it became very successful and led to a phone call from Richard Russell, boss of the music label XL Recordings. She doubted if the offer was real because the only record company she knew was Virgin Records, and she took a friend with her to the meeting.
Nick Huggett, at XL, recommended Adele to manager Jonathan Dickins at September Management, and in June 2006, Dickins became her official representative. September was managing Jamie T at the time and this proved a major draw for Adele, a big fan of the British singer-songwriter. Huggett then signed Adele to XL in September 2006. Adele provided vocals for Jack Peñate's song, "My Yvonne," for his debut album, and it was during this session she first met producer Jim Abbiss, who would go on to produce both the majority of her debut album, 19, and tracks on 21. In June 2007, Adele made her television debut, performing "Daydreamer" on the BBC's Later... with Jools Holland. Adele's breakthrough song, "Hometown Glory", was released in October 2007.
By 2008, Adele had become the headliner and performed an acoustic set, in which she was supported by Damien Rice. She became the first recipient of the Brit Awards Critics' Choice and was named the number-one predicted breakthrough act of 2008 in an annual BBC poll of music critics, Sound of 2008. The album 19, named for her age at the time she wrote and composed many of its songs, entered the British charts at number one. The Times Encyclopedia of Modern Music named 19 an "essential" blue-eyed soul recording. She released her second single, "Chasing Pavements", on 14 January 2008, two weeks ahead of her debut album, 19. The song reached number two on the UK Chart, and stayed there for four weeks. Adele was nominated for a 2008 Mercury Prize award for 19. She also won an Urban Music Award for "Best Jazz Act." She also received a Q Awards nomination in the category of Breakthrough Act and a Music of Black Origin nomination in the category of Best UK Female. In March 2008, Adele signed a deal with Columbia Records and XL Recordings for her foray into the United States. She embarked on a short North American tour in the same month, and 19 was released in the US in June. Billboard magazine stated of it: "Adele truly has potential to become among the most respected and inspiring international artists of her generation." The An Evening with Adele world tour began in May 2008 and ended in June 2009.
Adele performing live in January 2009
She later cancelled the 2008 US tour dates to be with a former boyfriend. She said in Nylon magazine in June 2009, "I'm like, 'I can't believe I did that.' It seems so ungrateful.... I was drinking far too much and that was kind of the basis of my relationship with this boy. I couldn't bear to be without him, so I was like, 'Well, I'll just cancel my stuff then.'" She referred to this period as her "early life crisis". She is also known for her dislike of flying and bouts of homesickness when away from her native London. By the middle of October 2008, Adele's attempt to break in America appeared to have failed. But then she was booked as the musical guest on 18 October 2008 episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live. The episode, which included an expected appearance by then US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, earned the program its best ratings in 14 years with 17 million viewers. Adele performed "Chasing Pavements" and "Cold Shoulder," and the following day, 19 topped the iTunes charts and ranked at number five at Amazon.com while "Chasing Pavements" rose into the top 25. The album reached number 11 on the Billboard 200 as a result, a jump of 35 places over the previous week.
In November 2008 Adele moved to Notting Hill, London after leaving her mother's house, a move that prompted her to give up drinking. The album was certified gold in February 2009 by the RIAA. By July 2009, the album had sold 2.2 million copies worldwide.
At the 51st Annual Grammy Awards in February 2009, Adele received the award for Best New Artist, in addition to the award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Chasing Pavements", which was also nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Adele performed "Chasing Pavements" at the ceremony in a duet with Jennifer Nettles. In 2010, Adele received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Hometown Glory." In April her song "My Same" entered the German Singles Chart after it had been performed by Lena Meyer-Landrut in the talent show contest Unser Star für Oslo, or Our Star for Oslo, in which the German entry to the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 was determined.
In late September, after being featured on The X Factor, Adele's version of Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love" re-entered the UK singles chart at number 4. During the 2010 CMT Artists of the Year special, Adele performed a widely publicised duet of Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" with Darius Rucker. This performance was later nominated for a CMT Music Award.
2011–2014: 21, worldwide recognition and hiatus
Adele performing in Seattle
, Washington, on 12 August 2011
Adele released her second studio album, 21, on 24 January 2011 in the UK and 22 February in the US. She said that the album was inspired by the break-up with her former partner. The album's sound is described as classic and contemporary country and roots music. The change in sound from her first album was the result of her bus driver playing contemporary music from Nashville when she was touring the American South, and the title reflected the growth she had experienced in the prior two years. Adele told Spin Magazine: "It was really exciting for me because I never grew up around [that music]." 21 hit number 1 in 30 countries, including the UK and the US.
An emotional performance of "Someone Like You" at the 2011 Brit Awards on 15 February propelled the song to number one in the UK. Her first album, 19, re-entered the UK album chart alongside 21, while first and second singles "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You" were in the top 5 of the UK singles chart, making Adele the first living artist to achieve the feat of two top-five hits in both the Official Singles Chart and the Official Albums Chart simultaneously since The Beatles in 1964. Both songs topped the charts in multiple markets and broke numerous sales performance records. Following her performance of "Someone Like You" at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, it became Adele's second number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100. By December 2011, 21 sold over 3.4 million copies in the UK, and became the biggest-selling album of the 21st century, overtaking Amy Winehouse's Back to Black, with Adele becoming the first artist ever to sell three million albums in the UK in one calendar year. "Set Fire to the Rain" became Adele's third number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, as Adele became the first artist ever to have an album, 21, hold the number-one position on the Billboard 200 concurrently with three number one singles. Moreover, 21 had the most weeks on the Billboard 200 chart of any album by a woman.
To promote the album, Adele embarked upon the "Adele Live" tour, which sold out its North American leg. In October 2011, Adele was forced to cancel two tours because of a vocal-cord haemorrhage. She released a statement saying she needed an extended period of rest to avoid permanent damage to her voice. In the first week of November 2011 Steven M. Zeitels, director of the Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, performed laser microsurgery on Adele's vocal cords to remove a benign polyp. A recording of her tour, Live at the Royal Albert Hall, was released in November 2011, debuting at number one in the US with 96,000 copies sold, the highest one-week tally for a music DVD in four years, becoming the best-selling music DVD of 2011. Adele is the first artist in Nielsen SoundScan history to have the year's number-one album (21), number-one single ("Rolling in the Deep"), and number-one music video. At the 2011 American Music Awards on 20 November, Adele won three awards; Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist, Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist, and Favorite Pop/Rock Album for 21. On 9 December, Billboard named Adele Artist of the Year, Billboard 200 Album of the Year (21), and the Billboard Hot 100 Song of the Year ("Rolling in the Deep"), becoming the first woman ever to top all three categories.
Following the throat microsurgery, she made her live comeback at the 2012 Grammy Awards in February. She won in all six categories for which she was nominated, making her the second female artist in Grammy history, after Beyoncé, to win that many categories in a single night. Following that success, 21 achieved the biggest weekly sales increase following a Grammy win since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991. Adele received the Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist, and British Album of the Year presented to her by George Michael. Following the Brit Awards, 21 reached number one for the 21st non-consecutive week in the UK. The album has sold over 4.5 million copies in the UK where it is the fourth best-selling album. In October, the album's sales surpassed 4.5 million in the UK, and in November it surpassed 10 million sales in the US. The best-selling album worldwide of 2011 and 2012, as of 2016, the album has sold over 31 million copies. By the end of 2014, she had sold an estimated 40 million albums and 50 million singles worldwide. Adele is the only artist or band in the last decade in the US to earn an RIAA diamond certification for a one disc album in less than two years.
In October 2012, Adele confirmed that she had been writing, composing and recording the theme song for Skyfall, the twenty-third James Bond film. The song "Skyfall," written and composed in collaboration with producer Paul Epworth, was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, and features orchestrations by J. A. C. Redford. Adele stated recording "Skyfall" was "one of the proudest moments of my life." On 14 October, "Skyfall" rose to number 2 on the UK Singles Chart with sales of 92,000 copies bringing its overall sales to 176,000, and "Skyfall" entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 8, selling 261,000 copies in the US in its first three days. This tied "Skyfall" with Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill" as the highest-charting James Bond theme song on the UK Singles Chart; a record surpassed in 2015 by Sam Smith's "Writing's on the Wall".
"Skyfall" has sold more than two million copies worldwide and earned Adele the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Song. In December 2012, Adele was named Billboard Artist of the Year, and 21 was named Album of the Year, making her the first artist to receive both accolades two years in a row. Adele was also named top female artist. The Associated Press named Adele Entertainer of the Year for 2012. The 2013 Grammy Awards saw Adele's live version of "Set Fire to the Rain" win the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance, bringing her total wins to nine.
On 3 April 2012, Adele confirmed that her third album would likely be at least two years away, stating, "I have to take time and live a little bit. There were a good two years between my first and second albums, so it'll be the same this time." She stated that she would continue writing and composing her own material.
At the 2013 Grammy Awards, she confirmed that she was in the very early stages of her third album. She also stated that she will most likely work with Paul Epworth again.
In September 2013, Wiz Khalifa confirmed that he and Adele had collaborated on a song for his upcoming fifth studio album, Blacc Hollywood, though the collaboration did not make the final track listing. In January 2014, Adele received her tenth Grammy Award with "Skyfall" winning Best Song Written for Visual Media at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. On the eve of her 26th birthday in May 2014, Adele posted a cryptic message via her Twitter account which prompted media discussion about her next album. The message, "Bye bye 25... See you again later in the year," was interpreted by some in the media, including the Daily Mail and Capital FM, as meaning that her next album would be titled 25 and released later in the year. In 2014, Adele was nominated for nine World Music Awards. In early August, Paul Moss suggested that an album would be released in 2014 or 2015. However, in the October 2014 accounts filed with Companies House by XL Recordings, they ruled out a 2014 release.
2015–present: 25 and Adele Live 2016
On 27 August 2015, Billboard reported that Adele's label, XL Recordings, had intentions of releasing her third studio album sometime in November 2015. Danger Mouse has contributed a song, while Tobias Jesso Jr. has written a track, and Ryan Tedder is "back in the mix after producing and co-writing "Rumour Has It" on 21." At the 72nd Venice International Film Festival in early September 2015, Sia announced that her new single "Alive" was co-written by Adele, and had originally been intended for Adele's third album. On 18 October, a 30-second clip of new material from Adele was shown on UK television during a commercial break on The X Factor. The commercial teases a snippet from a new song from her third album, with viewers hearing a voice singing accompanied by lyrics on a black screen.
In a statement released three days later she confirmed that the album is titled 25, with Adele stating, "My last record was a break-up record, and if I had to label this one, I would call it a make-up record. Making up for lost time. Making up for everything I ever did and never did. 25 is about getting to know who I've become without realising. And I'm sorry it took so long but, you know, life happened." Adele also believes 25 will be her last album with her age as its title, believing that 25 would be the end to a trilogy. On 22 October, Adele confirmed that 25 would be released on 20 November, while the lead single from the album, "Hello" would be released on 23 October. The song was first played on Nick Grimshaw's Radio 1 Breakfast Show on the BBC on the morning of 23 October with Adele interviewed live. The video of "Hello", released on 22 October, was viewed over 27.7 million times on YouTube in its first 24 hours, breaking the Vevo record for the most views in a day, surpassing the 20.1 million views for "Bad Blood" by Taylor Swift. On 28 October, BBC News reported that "Hello" was being viewed on YouTube an average one million times an hour. "Hello" went on to become the fastest video to hit one billion views on YouTube, which it achieved after 88 days. The video for "Hello" captured iconic British elements such as a red telephone box and a cup of tea. The song debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart on 30 October, with first week sales of 330,000 copies, making it the biggest-selling number one single in three years. "Hello" also debuted at number one in many countries around the world, including Australia, France, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland and Germany, and on 2 November, the song debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first song in the US to sell at least one million downloads in a week, setting the record at 1.11 million. By the end of 2015, it had sold 12.3 million units globally and was the year's 7th best-selling single despite being released in late October.
Adele singing in St. Paul
during her first North American tour in five years in July 2016. Ten million people tried to buy tickets for the North American leg of Adele's world tour. Only 750,000 tickets were available
On 27 October, BBC One announced plans for Adele at the BBC, a one-hour special presented by Graham Norton, in which Adele talks about her new album and performs new songs. This was her first television appearance since performing at the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony, and the show was recorded before a live audience on 2 November for broadcast on 20 November, coinciding with the release of 25. On 27 October it was also announced that Adele would appear on the US entertainment series Saturday Night Live on 21 November. On 30 October, Adele confirmed that she would be performing a one-night-only concert titled Adele Live in New York City at the Radio City Music Hall on 17 November. Subsequently, NBC aired the concert special on 14 December.
On 27 November, 25 debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and became the fastest selling album in UK chart history with over 800,000 copies sold in its first week. The album debuted at number one in the US where it sold a record-breaking 3.38 million copies in its first week, the largest single sales week for an album since Nielsen began monitoring sales in 1991. 25 also broke first week sales records in Canada and New Zealand. 25 became the best-selling album of 2015 in a number of countries, including Australia, the UK and the US, spending seven consecutive weeks at number one in each country, before being displaced by David Bowie's Blackstar. It was the best-selling album worldwide of 2015 with 17.4 million copies sold. 25 has since sold 20 million copies globally. Adele's seven weeks at the top of the UK Albums Chart took her total to 31 weeks at number one in the UK with her three albums, surpassing Madonna's previous record of most weeks at number one for a female act.
In November 2015, Adele's 2016 tour was announced, her first tour since 2011. Beginning in Europe, Adele Live 2016 included four dates at the Manchester Arena in March 2016, six dates at the O2 Arena, London, with further dates in Ireland, Spain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands among others. Her North American Tour began on 5 July in St. Paul, Minnesota. The leg included six nights at Madison Square Garden in New York City, eight nights at Staples Center in Los Angeles, and four nights at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Adele broke Taylor Swift's five-show record for most consecutive sold-out shows at Staples Center.
Adele at Wembley Stadium
in June 2017. Adele's concert on 28 June was attended by 98,000 fans, a stadium record for a UK music event
At the 2016 Brit Awards in London on 24 February, Adele received the awards for British Female Solo Artist, British Album of the Year for 25, British Single of the Year for "Hello", and British Global Success, bringing her Brit Award wins to eight. She closed the ceremony by performing "When We Were Young", the second single from 25. Two more singles from 25 were released in 2016: "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)" and "Water Under the Bridge". While on stage at London's O2 Arena on 17 March, Adele announced that she would be headlining on the Pyramid Stage at the 2016 Glastonbury Festival, which was later confirmed by the festival's organisers. She appeared for a 90-minute fifteen song set at the festival on 25 June, and described the experience as "by far, the best moment of my life so far".
As part of her world tour, in February and March 2017, Adele performed in Australia for the first time, playing outdoor stadiums around the country. Her first two shows in New Zealand sold out in a record-breaking 23 minutes, and a third show was announced, with all tickets sold in under 30 minutes. Adele sold over 600,000 tickets for her record-breaking eight date Australian tour, setting stadium records throughout the country; her Sydney show at ANZ Stadium on 10 March was seen by 95,000 people, the biggest single concert in Australian history, a record she broke the following night with more than 100,000 fans.
Adele completed her world tour with two concerts, dubbed "The Finale", at Wembley Stadium, London on 28 and 29 June. She announced the shows at "the home of football" by singing the England football team's "Three Lions" anthem and also the theme song to the BBC's weekly Premier League football show Match of the Day. Adele had added another two concerts at Wembley after the first two dates sold out, however she cancelled the 1 and concert of 2 Julys after damaging her vocal cords. As a show of support, fans instead gathered outside Wembley Stadium to perform renditions of her songs, in an event titled "Sing for Adele".
At the end of 2016, Billboard named Adele Artist of the Year for the third time, with the Top Billboard 200 album. 25 was the best-selling album for a second consecutive year in the US. With 160 million views, Adele's Carpool Karaoke through the streets of London with James Corden, a sketch which featured on Corden's talk show The Late Late Show with James Corden in January 2016, was the biggest YouTube viral video of 2016. At the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in February 2017, Adele won all five of her nominations, bringing her to fifteen. She won awards for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for 25, and Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for "Hello". She also performed a tribute to the late George Michael singing the rendition of his song "Fastlove"; due to technical difficulties which occurred during the performance, Adele decided to stop and restart, explaining "I can't mess this up for him".